My gelding started to colic Friday afternoon. My first indication that something was wrong was the fact that he was laying down in a odd place (not the normal napping spot). So I called out and he got himself up but immediately started wanting to go down again. This was all the information I needed to spring into colic mode and start treatment. Up catching him I noticed his breathing was a bit labored and he was starting to sweat. When I had called him he did poop while up which allowed me to feel comfortable about giving him some Banamine. After the shot we started walking and within 20 minutes Charlie was feeling much better, and within the hour he was in the stall normal once again happily munching hay. My theory to the actual cause of our colic episode is that with all the rain we had last week a dormant plant/seed started growing in the pasture and Charlie ate it and as a result got a tummy ache.
Now the title of this post is know your normal. Given that Charlie was a good ways out in the pasture if I had not taken notice of his odd napping/lying down location (which made me investigate further) there is a good chance he could have suffered for several hours or even through the night before getting treatment. If he had not gotten early treatment (he was absolutely normal when I saw him out 3 hours earlier) there is a much greater chance that we would have had to go to the vet (and I was ready to do so if he had not shown such improvement early on) or worse he could have twisted his gut and required major surgery.
The moral of the story. Horses are creatures of habit, any changes in their behavior could mean there is something very wrong. While horses can not verbally tell us where it hurts, by knowing your horse's normal everyday behavior and habits you will be better able to tell when something is not right.